Sunday, November 23, 2008

Antietam Lake - Winter (Hidden Gem!)

It's been a labor of love researching places to visit the past couple of years, but also more like a task at times. There doesn't seem to be a one stop resource offering what I was looking for, which is one of the reasons I developed this photo blog.

While looking through the reliable Berks County Conservancy's site, they mentioned an old converted railroad trail from Antietam to Pendora. Antietam Lake is part of the Berks County Parks and Lakes sytem. I stumbled upon Antietam Lake a couple years ago while I was out on a drive to test my new GPS. I made a mental note, but due to the path I was traveling (down Hill Rd) I saw no shoulder or pull offs to stop. Unfortunately, I went right onto Angora Rd instead of left or I would have seen at least three different parking areas.

If there is a trail there must be parking, so I pulled up Antietam Lake on the satellite Map and saw the parking areas. My initial intent was to take the trail from lake to lake, but once I arrived I wanted to explore the trail that runs the shore line of Antietam Lake. I parked on Angora Rd at the distant lot where the little Antietam Creek feeds the lake.

It was another sunny cold afternoon, 33 degrees, but less breezy. Little did I know that it would turn out to be one of the best photo outings we had this year. Max, again seemed oblivious to the cold so he led a torrid pace right from the start as he sometimes does when he's excited by a new "hunt".

Right out of the car were exploding milkweed pods exposing themselves for a breeze to spread their wispy feathered seeds. I am a total sucker for milkweeds, like I am for ferns. I cannot pass by without stopping and studying and usually snapping a picture.

Antietam Lake must be a tremendous fishing hole for there were dozens of short paths leading to the waters edge. At the end of the first path along the creek is where the ducks and geese were. True wild ones for they fled immediately upon approach.

The lake is fed in multiple directions so it's uniquely shaped like a three fingered mitten. When we turned the corner is when more magic appeared. First you see in the distance a cascading water fall, then behind the falls is another little stream which I think is also called Antietam Creek (for it looks like the same one that runs through the Earl Poole Sanctuary).

The man made water fall wall was dramatic in scale. The water crested at multiple spots so there were a series of different flows to photograph. Water, ice, leaves are all good subject matter.

This time of year offers some very cool natural ice sculptures. Not enough consecutive cold days to freeze up the streams/lakes completely so the dripping and splashing and repetition make for some amazing features. I totally wanted to go down to the stream side and get a closer look, but Max was less excited about rock hopping slippery, leaf covered rocks. Maybe he remembers the last time he tried to walk on leaves and took an unscheduled bath.

My favorite part of this outing was the little stream. Many trees traversed the stream as far as you could see and still had a dusting of snow. The elevations were enough for numerous unique little water falls. Naturally, ice formations abound at these water falls.

We were losing light fast even though it was barely 2:00 PM due the hills, the valley and winter's solar angle. The day ended with some nostalgia photography of Perkiomen Ave and it's construction projects.

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